The Japan Aerospace Exploration Agency, or JAXA, is calling the Kaguya project the most ambitious mission to the moon since the Apollo flights, more than three decades ago. The $479 million mission is also known as SELENE, or Selenological and Engineering Explorer.
The rocket carrying the three-ton orbiter took off into blue skies, leaving a huge trail of vapor over the tiny island of Tanegashima, about 1,000 km (620 miles) south of Tokyo, at 10:31 a.m. Friday (9:31 p.m. ET Thursday) as it headed out over the Pacific Ocean."
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